There is so much to see in Erfurt that travelers are often confused about what to see and what to skip. The struggle is even more real for history and architecture enthusiasts, as every nook of this 1,270-year-old city has a story to tell. We have chalked out an itinerary for you that will take you to the highlights of the city in one day. Most of your time will be spent exploring amazing historic architecture; you will also learn about Thuringian history and the plight of the Jews, see priceless art treasures, and catch a panoramic bird’s-eye view of the city. Let’s go.
The unrivaled best place to start your day in Erfurt is at the historic Fischmarkt (fish market). It is the beating heart of the city, it has plenty of gastronomic options, and you can see many of the highlights of the city right around this square. Pick a café and order a filling breakfast in preparation for a busy day ahead.
By this time, you will have noticed the gorgeous neo-gothic Rathaus. Its ornate interior truly befits its beautiful facade. Sign up for a guided tour to see the intricate murals depicting historic events in its halls. It opens at 8 a.m. on weekdays and at 10 a.m. on weekends.
Fischmarkt 1, 99084 Erfurt, +49 361 6551145
Afterwards, take a short stroll to the Evangelisches Augustinerkloster (Augustinian Monastery). The Great Reformer Martin Luther was ordained as monk in this 13th-century monastery. On a tour, you can trace his steps, see the room where he spent several years, and visit a charming chapel.
Augustinerstraße 10, Erfurt, Germany, +49 0361 576600
Though Erfurt boasts many wonderful museums, you probably have time to visit just one. We recommend the Angermuseum, about half a mile (one kilometer) away from the Evangelisches Augustinerkloster. The stunning architecture of the museum houses a range of historic arts and crafts that will help you understand the historical, economic, and cultural development of Erfurt over the last few hundred years.
Anger 18, Erfurt, Germany, +49 0361 6551640
A short walk from Angermuseum is the famous medieval limestone and sandstone bridge, Krämerbrücke (Merchant’s Bridge). Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is one of the very few inhabited bridges in the world. Houses, shops, boutiques, restaurants, ice-cream parlors, and cafés line the bridge on both sides, with a walkway running through the middle. The Church of St. Aegidius marks the eastern end of the bridge. If you wish to catch a bird’s-eye view of the city, climb to the tower of the church. The bridge is also a great and unique place to stop for lunch. If you are looking for more options for lunch, walk across the bridge from east to west and turn left to reach the Fischmarkt once more.
Now that you’re rested and full, continue your exploration of the multi-layered ancient city of Erfurt. A two-minute walk from the bridge will bring you to The Old Synagogue. Its facade might not overwhelm you, but it is worth visiting for the treasures preserved behind its medieval walls. Other than Jewish manuscripts and lessons on the history of medieval Jews, the synagogue preserves the priceless Erfurt Treasure, which consists of a few thousand silver coins and 6,000 goldsmithery items from the 13th and 14th centuries. You can also see a 13th-century mikveh (a Jewish ritual bath) and ancient Jewish gravestones at this museum. Prepare to spend at least an hour here.
Waagegasse 8, Erfurt, Germany, +49 0361 6551608
Take another short walk and you will find yourself gazing up at the magnificent ensemble of St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Severus Church. Erfurt Cathedral is worth a visit for its stunning stained-glass windows and the world’s largest free-swinging bell, called Maria Gloriosa. Don’t miss the magnificent five-aisled hall church of St. Severus Church, either.
Dompl. 28, 99084 Erfurt, +49 361 6550
Located a little way from the cathedral, the 17th-century massive baroque fortress Zitadelle Petersburg welcomes you to explore its defence barracks and stone walls and learn about its history. You can also check out the monastery church of St. Peter’s in the same compound. The Zitadelle is open till 6 p.m.
Petersberg 3, Erfurt, Germany, +49 0361 66400
If you are making good time, and especially if it’s summer, we highly recommend Egapark (about a mile and a half or 2.5 kilometers from the Zitadelle). Egapark is among the biggest leisure parks in the country and you can see Europe’s largest ornamental flowerbed here. The view from the observation deck at the park is really spectacular, too.
Gothaer Str. 38, Erfurt, Germany, +49 0361 5643737
It’s time to head back to the Fischmarkt (around two miles or three kilometers) for dinner, though of course you will find several options on the way as well. As you indulge in a delicious meal, congratulate yourself on a day well spent.